The Knowledge Management arena is a very confused place to be, and different people, different countries and different industries see Knowledge Management in a very different light.Some people see Knowledge Management as a way to rebadge content management, and the management of documents.
Some see Knowledge Management as a new word for the Management of Information; for example you will see many companies whose definition of Knowledge Management is "getting the right information to the right people at the right time" - a definition already applied to Information Management.
Others (ourselves included) see Knowledge Management as something more - related to sharing of experiences and insights that give others a greater level of understanding in order that they can act more effectively and efficiently.
Part of the confusion between Knowledge Management and Information Management is almost certainly the lack, in the English language, of any distinction between Know-How, and Know-What. English is unusual in using the same word ("knowledge") for both of these forms of knowing. Other languages differentiate them - Savoir and Connaitre in French, Kennen and Wissen in Germany, Kunne and Vite in Norwegian. In the English language, however, Knowledge is a word that is lost in translation.
Two types of "knowledge"The two types of Knowledge are very different, and have huge implications in KM terms. Know-what is about knowing facts, Know-how is about understanding actions and processes - understanding what to do with the facts.
Know-what is Information. Know-How often (or usually) isn't.
Most of the information in your organisation is "Know-what" - knowing what was done by someone at some time, or what numbers of X were sold, or what the population of Y was, or what someone wrote in an email. The know-what is valuable, and good information management will make sure that the right information reaches the right people, but information without knowledge makes you better informed but none the wiser.
Knowledge management has always delivered its real value when applied to "Know-How" - to improving the competence of the organisation by giving people access to the know-how they need to make the correct decisions. If they know how to act, they will act correctly. Know-how management focuses on the exchange and re-use of experiences, guidance and insights; through communities of practice, lesson learning, the development of "best practice" knowledge assets, collective sense-making, and innovation, as well as the development of a culture of learning and sharing.
Through providing people with knowledge (know-how), we allow them to understand information (know-what) and make it actionable.
To derive maximum value from your Knowledge Management program, focus on Know-how.